Game 11 Preview: Caps at Ottawa Senators

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, November 04, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

After missing two games to be with his ailing grandfather, Alex Ovechkin returns to the ice with his Washington Capitals (5-4-1-11, 2nd in Southeast) teammates in Ottawa to take on the Senators (4-5-2-10, 5th in Northeast) from Scotiabank Place at 7:30 pm.

Washington swept all four games last year between the two teams, so Ottawa has incentive right off the bat, regardless of their less-than-inspiring start to the season.

The Caps have plenty of motivation of their own, considering their poor and lethargic play in a 5-0 loss to Buffalo Saturday night, and the resulting hard practices conducted by coach Bruce Boudreau since. Boudreau called out several of his star players by name after the poor showing in Buffalo, and several, including Mike Green and Jose Theodore, stood up to take responsibility for their efforts.

Theodore, in particular, needs to rebound from his inconsistent start. He's getting beaten way too often early in games and at the starts and finishes of periods. He needs to re-examine his concentration and preparation levels, or the Caps may need to lean on back-up G Brent Johnson a little more. Theodore's numbers (4-3-0, 3.44, .877) just won't cut it over the long haul. He's shown flashes of brilliance, but far too ofter has been sloppy with the puck, either allowing big rebounds or miscommunicating with his defensemen.

The defense itself comes into this game hurting. Tom Poti has returned from his groin injury and hasn't shown any lingering effects, but Shaone Morrisonn took a puck to the body Saturday and could not finish the game and his status tonight is questionable, though he practiced yesterday. John Erskine, however, is hobbled by lingering soreness in the calf he hurt originally in Calgary and he may be a game-time decision. Sergei Federov can cover for one of the defensemen, but it will be a major problem if neither can go, or can't finish.

Ottawa enters having won two of their last three games, defeating Buffalo 5-2 and Florida 2-1, but losing to Tampa Bay in a shootout 3-2 in their most recent game Saturday. Their offense is paced by LW Dany Heatley (7-6-13) and D Filip Kuba (0-12-12). RW Daniel Alfredsson had minor knee surgery earlier this season, but managed to miss just one contest. He has three goals and two assists in his last five games.

Ottawa's regular starting goalie is Martin Gerber (1-3-1, 3.39, .891), but he has been nursing a leg injury and is questionable. Alex Auld (3-2-2, 2.15, .931) is the capable back-up.

: PP-21st (16.0%, 8/50); PK-18th (80.0%, 12/60)

OTT: PP-4th (25.0%, 13/52); PK-7th (86.3%, 7/51)

: Alexander Semin (8-8-16, +6); C Sergei Federov (3-5-8, +6)

OTT: LW Dany Heatley (7-6-13, -3); D Filip Kuba (0-12-12, +3); C Jason Spezza (5-7-12, -1)


WAS: RW Chris Clark (0-1-1, -1, dropped to fourth line); Eric Fehr (healthy scratch last four games)

OTT: LW Nick Foligno (team worst -6); D Chris Phillips (0-1-1, -5); C Jesse Winchester (0-2-2, -5)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (concussion-OUT); D Shaone Morrisonn (internal-QUEST); D John Erskine (calf-QUEST)

OTT: G Martin Gerber (leg-QUEST)